Teen Drug and Substance Abuse
Teen drug abuse is quite an alarming scenario. Almost 55 percent of American children between 12 and 17 years fall under high to moderate risk category, while a minority of 45 percent falls under low risk category, according to National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA).
The severity and extent of the problem can be guessed by the fact that according to one study 4 percent of the American teens have reported having sex in exchange for money or drugs. The figure when extrapolated to the national youth population suggests an alarming 650,000 youths have engaged in this kind of behavior
Although the role of parents, schools and religion has been identified as factors that can have great impact in curbing substance abuse, but they have failed to play their roles adequately.
There are several other important reasons identified by the CASA survey. These include family dynamics, parents’ lack of involvement in kids’ lives, their friends’ substance use, school and neighborhood environment among others. The study also highlights the fact of teens having problems in one area of life impacting the other.
Teenage parties are the most potent sources of drugs and alcohol. Although presence of parent(s) is no guarantee of a substance free party, but their presence makes a significant difference.
Half of the surveyed teens confirmed the availability of substances in more than one such party they attended. Thirty two percent of teen party goers have been to at least one party where different kinds of drugs including prescription drug and alcohol were available. Nearly half of all teenagers who are 17 have attended at least one such party.
The presence of parents in these parties, according to the survey can make a huge difference as these figures indicate: In the parties where parents are not present alcohol is 16 times more likely to be available; illegal drugs are 15 times more likely to be available; Marijuana is 29 times more likely to be available.
It is clear from the figures above the significant role that parents can make by their presence while the kids are partying. Besides the teen parties there are other influences that cannot be ignored. Children in their early years are innocent. They do not take drugs by themselves unless offered. According to the survey, very young minority children are offered drug by some one or the other. Hispanic and African-American children in the age group 12-13 are offered drugs three times more frequently in comparison to the white children.
Almost 41 percent teens have reported that they were offered drugs at some point in their lives. The chance of such an offer being made is highest at the age of 14. The same report informs us that 19 percent of the teens surveyed knew some one directly who was the victim of gun violence, and these children are at twice the risk of substance abuse in comparison to those who do not know a victim of gun violence.
The other influence bearing a direct impact on teenage drug abuse is ‘having witnessed the sale of drugs’. Nineteen percent of teens have directly witnessed the sale of drugs in their neighborhood and consequently, they are two and a half times at a greater risk of substance abuse in comparison to the teens who have not witnessed the sale of drugs.
The other very crucial reason for teen substance abuse that deserves our attention is the relative ease with which the drugs are available. Teens find marijuana easiest to purchase in comparison to other drugs and alcohol. While 38 percent in 12-17 year age group reported they could buy marijuana within a day, 19 percent teenagers claimed to buy marijuana within an hour or less.
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